Our History

church doorsThe First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica was founded by two sisters, Emma and Jennie Vawter, who wanted a safe place for the children they saw “running wild” on the beach. They created a Sunday school in their home, and the church grew from there.

The Church was officially chartered on September 28, 1875, with nine women and three men as charter members. In keeping with the Presbyterian emphasis on education for all, the first building also served as the public school for several years. A newer building followed in 1889, and the congregation grew along with the city of Santa Monica.

In 1922, the church built a large and dramatic Spanish Renaissance structure. The congregation moved into its current location on 2nd Street in Santa Monica in 1975. We completed an extensive remodeling in April of 2007. Through the years, FIRST PRES has consistently emphasized family, education, music, and involvement in the social issues of the day.